Trip Planning for a Chile/Argentina loop

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by SpecialAgentNancy, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    I am about to start my Portugal ride and have ridden about 20 countries now and have been kicking the idea of a Chile-Argentina loop next summer.

    Need advice on weather. What is the best months to ride these 2 countries. Just how cold does it get towards the south? (do I need heated gear if I go during summer)

    Need advice on terrain/roads. I'm decent on dirt, gravel, etc....don't do well in mud and wonder just how good or bad the roads are. I'm not doing this to struggle through jungles and mud, I'm good with pavement the whole time but could throw in a little dirt here and there to keep it interesting.

    Need advice on the political/military climate. Not aware of any armed conflict going on there but would like to know if there are regions of tension I should avoid.

    Most important of all....is anyone interested in doing this with me in the next year? I can take a month or two off and can afford to do it.

    Here are my previous trip posts and my Portugal ride that starts in 2 weeks.
    Portugal: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=725070
    Turkey (two different years): http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=620475
    Bulgaria: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=620469
    Eastern Europe: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=577386
    #1
  2. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    Chile and to a slightly lesser extent Argentina are every bit as developed and safe as anything you'd find in Portugal. They have the occasional border dispute about a rock off the coast somewhere or their border marker is on a glacier that's moving; just grudge rivalry type stuff, no active armed conflicts. As for roads, you can see everything you'll want to see from either good highways, smaller paved roads or a good gravel road at the worst. Anything worse than that will be by choice and not out of necessity. When you say "summer" do you mean northern hemisphere summer or southern hemisphere summer? That matters. Patagonia is cold, rainy, and windy for much of the year and snowy for a good chunk as well. Crossing over the Andes in the winter is not an enjoyable proposition. I got snowed on a few times even during their summer on some higher passes, so plan accordingly.
    #2
  3. Manolito

    Manolito Patagonia guide

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    In the north of Argentina/Chile, in summer, it's going to be extremly hot. As you start heading south, the wheater becomes cooler (15ÂșC)
    #3
  4. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    Southern Hemisphere summer....well actually I usually do my trips during Spring or Fall (in the location I'm riding) less tourists, less traffic, less extreme weather.
    #4
  5. SUD-MAR

    SUD-MAR Adventurer

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    Hi SpecialAgentNancy,

    For your Guidance:
    Fm 21 march to 20 de june : Fall
    Fm 21 june to 20 sepember : Winter
    Fm 21 september to 20 december : Spring
    Fm 21 de december to 20 march : Summer

    Argentinian Summer is very warm all around, North you may experience over 40 C and a lot of wind called Zonda. in mid Argentina between 25/40 C in Patagonia around 25/15 C and even warmer/colder some days and a lot of wind !!! Some riders do November which is mid Spring.

    If you ride during Summer I do not think you will need heated gear, but each person is different.

    With respects to military conflicts between Argentina and Chile there are No any conflicts at this time we do live in peace. All past conflicts are debated via diplomatics and with some help of International asssitance. On December 10th 1983 Democracy Goverment was re-establish in Argentina and still.

    I would love to join you, but I will be riding this October fm Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and back, however you never know.
    Once I finish my ride I will be able to give you more information, however any further Info and or assistance you need pls let me know.

    Cheers
    Christian
    +*+
    #5
  6. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    I'm thinking of March so let's stay in touch.
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  7. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    The reason I ask about heated gear is I have Reynaud's which makes riding in cold temperatures dangerous...once the blood flow stops in my fingers I literally can't brake or pull in the clutch so I just have to plan for the possibility. In a tight squeeze I can use the heat pads in my gloves but if I'm going to do days of it, I'd need heated grips etc.

    My core stays OK even in 50ish weather. I sleep cold at night and since I prefer camping I've dealt with that buy using a thermal pad, sub-zero down bag and a cot to get me off cold (or hot) ground.

    I've learned that riding for a long time/distance is all about being prepared and having the right gear.

    I've also learned that if I don't take care of myself appropriately (by being prepared and being qualified for the terrain) I'm a hazard and burden to my riding partners. If I can't ride from the cold (or in the worst case, crash) I end the fun for everyone...so I bought the worldwide medivac insurance for this very reason.
    #7
  8. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    I have some Reynaud's, and the key for me has been Hippo Hands, which you can Google. Everyone I met with heated grips and clothing seemed to have electrical dysfunction sooner or later ("Normally I'd be fine, but one of my connectors went bad and I can't get my vest working right..."). Just a thought.

    50-ish weather will get you most places during summer, but in the far south you might hit cold rain (I sure did) or brief wet snow (yup: I found this too), and you'll be glad to be prepared for colder than 50 F.

    The other issue is riding at altitude. Regardless of season, it often gets colder than 50 F in the Andes. When you're lucky (or plan well) this will happen when it's dry. When unlucky, think freezing temps, snow and hail, thin air, and a long distance between sheltered stops. Not necessarily a bad thing, but worth preparing for.

    To go all the way to South America only to avoid the far south or the high passes in the Andes due to issues with chilly weather seems to me a tragedy. Proper attention to fully waterproof gear (I wore two layers of waterproofing at times from head to toe, having learned elsewhere that one layer never really did the job all day long) and sufficient insulating layers will pay off sooner or later.

    The above opinionating worth exactly what you paid me for it....but hope it's helpful nonetheless.

    Mark
    #8
  9. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    Very helpful. I think that based on the feedback so far, the BMW winter gear I've got with gortex will be the suit to use. I'd rather be a little warm than cold. With the lining out and the underarm vents open, it's somewhat breathable.

    I've done freezing rain, hail, sleet and snow in that suit and not a drop got in, not one. Amazing quality and it should be for a grand. Good point on the distances without shelter. Didn't consider that.
    #9
  10. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    There is no way that I would want to go up in the Andes without heated grips and a heated jacket. I haven't made it to the Southern Andes yet but in the Los Andes in the North I used my hot grips and jacket a lot in Colombia and Venezuela and was in heaven:deal Would suck big time without imho.

    12 volt is really simple, do a good quality wiring job and carry some very simple spares, feels like riding in warm bath water with the heat on:wings


    Good on you for getting out there and doing some solo riding:clap
    #10
  11. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    John, you used heated gear riding in Colombia and Venezuela? Sheesh. Or was that merely for protective purposes while partying with Dan and Mike?

    I can only report my observations and experience. I don't own heated gear, and while there were times I got cold, there were far more times that the folks with heated gear got cold....because theirs didn't work. Of course, selective, self-serviing memory might be an issue too.

    The parallel issue of getting overheated needs some consideration, but I've generally found that overheating doesn't endanger my life, while hypothermia while riding definitely does. YMMV.

    Mark
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  12. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    Not needed with Dan and Mike but around El Coyue National Park in Colombia:
    [​IMG]
    and Pico Aguilar in Venezuela, even the locals where cold and they didn't have to deal with the wind chill:lol3
    [​IMG]
    it was damn cold and I like riding when I'm warm, at the very least I wouldn't own a travel bike without heated grips:deal

    You'll love it when you have it.
    #12
  13. Acampao

    Acampao WInd Jammer

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    March is a tad late for Patagonia. I would recommend November trough February if you plan to do Southern Patagonia and/or Tierra del Fuego. Are you flying to Santiago? Renting a bike or bringing yours? How much time you have? Check out motoaventura.cl, they have some nice motorcycling tours. If time is not a constrain, plan to visit Chile's Lakes Region, cross the Andes to Bariloche and go South on Argentina's Ruta 40. You can then cross the border back to Torres del Paine Chilean national park, and head to Ushuaia on TdF island. Again, if you plan to stay in the Central-South area March should be fine.
    #13
  14. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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    I rode Patagonia late and loved it. Much fewer tourists and the hostals are keen to negotiate prices.

    I rode to the end of ruta 3 in mid April and it wasn't very cold by my standards and I live in a desert and prefer hot weather. The sub-arctic climate is quite balmy so the cold is not so bad. I didn't run hippo hands or heated grips but used an old Widder electric vest that puts out enough heat to keep my core warm with a wind proof layer of course.

    This place was probably the coldest of the trip for me, slightly below freezing. On the way to Cochrane, Chile at the end of March.

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    A clear case of "it all depends." The OP has Reynaud's, which involves a particular susceptibility of the hands, even worse in response to vibration. Freezing weather and gravel roads on a motorbike is the perfect storm (ask me how I know this).

    I saw rode through snow squalls (sticking on the highway) outside Uyuni in February. Also steady snow sticking on the highway between La Paz and Oruro in December. Others saw neither of the above. I was warm and dry the length of the Caraterra Austral in March. You found the coldest temps of your trip. John found the passes in Venezuela and Colombia required electrics. I sure didn't.

    The general point is being prepared for whatever might befall, and being flexible with plans when encountering extremes. I sure favor warm clothes over stuff that plugs in, but then again I like paper maps vs. GPS. Horses for courses.

    Hope all of the above is helpful to the OP.

    Mark
    #15
  16. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    I wonder if you road the same passes? Even in Ecuador I found some very cold country around Quito with some icy roads. Electric grips are very nice and could only help a person with Reynauds I would think. I use them much of the time when I'm not even cold just to soothe my hands and ad to the feel good:lol3

    GPS is totally awesome too btw:roflIt turns into bigtime adventure easily.
    #16
  17. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

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    All depends on the weather. :lol3 Some of the passes I rode in Colombia were pretty darned cold above 10,000 feet. Two that come to mind are Berlin and Parque de los Nevados. Temps slightly above freezing, pissing down rain. I'm sure on other days it could be quite pleasant. I think that's what Mark is trying to point out, that timing is everything.

    All that said, I used my electric grips a bit in every country that had some elevation, including Mexico and Guatemala. By the time I got to Peru and Bolivia I broke out the electric vest and used it occasionally. Coastal central Chile was surprisingly "chilly." :D I had snow in the Garibaldi pass into Ushuaia and didnt use the vest. Around Chalten I froze my stones solid even with the vest.

    Everyone is different I guess.
    #17
  18. cliffy109

    cliffy109 Long timer

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    Does your Argentine/Chilean loop need to include Ushaia and Patogonia? I know that riding to the Southernmost point of civilization has a lot of appeal, but both of those countries have a LOT to offer beyond that. I did a tour with Compass Expiditions back in January and was amazed at how much great riding there is and how much there is to see and do.

    Our tour didn't go any farther South than Bariloche. Mine was a short tour (9 days) and centered around the Lakes Region. Roads were amazing, including the gravel and dirt. Temperatures were pleasant with overnight lows only hitting the upper 50's and daytime highs in the mid-80's to low 90's (one stretch did creep near 100 until we got into the mountains). It is a desert so those morning lows rise quickly. I had brought a supply of long sleeve fleece, jacket liners and warm gloves and none ever came out of the gear bag.

    You sound like a pretty seasoned adventurer so a tour might not have as much appeal for you as it did for me. I found Compass to be a perfect mix of security and adventure. Here is my ride report.
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  19. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    Time is not a limitation.
    I want to ship my Tiger there and back again.
    No way, no motorcycle tour for me. I've been putting together my own rides for years, not gonna pay anyone to tell me when to stop and take photos and where I pitch my tent.
    I have no trip plan ideas yet for this but just a general idea of a look from wherever I can ship my bike (probably Lima)
    Yes, i'd like to see some penguins.
    #19
  20. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    yeah I'm a paper map rider too...very helpful. I know the gear and will back it up with heated stuff....also will look at January/February now.
    #20